City of Crows
Picador, $32.99 pb, 374 pp, 9781760551100
Every Chris Womersley novel represents a significant departure from the last. Following his award-winning and magnificently dark début, The Low Road (2007), and his Miles Franklin shortlisted Bereft (2010), and Cairo (2013), City of Crows is his first novel set entirely outside Australia. An acutely crafted historical fiction, it is set in France in 1673 during the reign of Louis XIV.
The title refers to a common period name for Paris, although the novel begins outside the city. This movement from the countryside to the metropolis reflects the early structure of the narrative, but also differences in the way that witchcraft was performed between city and country, particularly by the novel’s two protagonists: the peasant Charlotte Picot and the opportunist magician Monsieur Lesage.